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It is costing the Government billions of dollars per year to fund the agencies and institutions responsible for the care and protection of children, many of whom have been neglected or abused.

This has prompted Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, to call for a change in the mindset of persons who are having children without giving thought of how they will take care of them.

“Too many parents are taking the easy way out by abandoning their children, otherwise abusing them or carting them off to police stations, the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the courts for so-called ‘uncontrollable behaviour’,” the Minister pointed out.

She was making her contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate on Tuesday, June 18, in the House of Representatives.

According to Minister Hanna, it costs $1.7 billion a year to fund the CDA, which is more than the $1.4 billion allocated to the Ministry of Youth and Culture and its other agencies.

She pointed out too, that more than $436 million is being spent to operate eight Government-run children’s homes and places of safety, which breaks down to the weekly cost of $13,000 per child or $676,000 per child per year. There are currently 334 children at these facilities.

Ms. Hanna further informed that Government spends another $721 million per year as a subsidy to take care of the 1,823 children across 48 privately operated children’s homes and places of safety.

This is in addition to the financial assistance that the CDA provides to wards of the state, who are in family environments including 950 children in foster care, 1,119 on Supervision Orders and 809 in the family reintegration programme.

Contact: Andrea Braham